Central Asia Metals updated the market on fourth-quarter performance at the Kounrad dump leach, solvent extraction and electro-winning (SX-EW) copper recovery plant in Kazakhstan on Thursday, as well as the Sasa zinc-lead mine in North Macedonia.
The AIM-traded firm said it achieved several significant milestones in 2023, including zero lost time injuries (LTIs) at the Kounrad plant and one at the Sasa mine.
Copper production at Kounrad reached 13,816 tonnes, positioning it towards the upper end of the guidance range.
Meanwhile, zinc and lead production at the Sasa mine fell within the middle of the guidance range, with zinc concentrate production totalling 20,338 tonnes and lead concentrate production reaching 27,794 tonnes.
The company also marked the completion of the Kounrad solar power plant, which was now generating renewable energy for its operations, contributing to sustainability efforts.
It added that the Central Decline at Kounrad was now operational, while the construction of the Sasa paste backfill plant was complete and operational.
Additionally, Central Asia Metals secured a new exploration licence in Kazakhstan aimed at targeting mid-scale copper deposits.
The firm ended 2023 with a cash balance of $57.2m.
Looking ahead to 2024, Central Asia Metals outlined expectations of copper production ranging from 13,000 to 14,000 tonnes, zinc in concentrate production between 19,000 to 21,000 tonnes, and lead in concentrate production expected to be within the range of 27,000 to 29,000 tonnes.
The company anticipated the completion of the dry stack tailings plant and initial landform in the first half of 2024.
Additionally, Central Asia Metals said it was poised to reduce carbon emissions in 2024, thanks to the contribution of solar power from the newly operational Kounrad facility.
The firm also planned to intensify exploration activities in Kazakhstan through its subsidiary, CAML Exploration, as it continued to prioritise business development.
“I am pleased to report steady, safe and reliable production from both of our operations during 2023,” said chief executive officer Nigel Robinson.
“At Kounrad we had a strong year, achieving copper production towards the top end of our guidance range and, most importantly, in a safe environment with 2,054 days since the last lost-time injury.
“At Sasa, we achieved production at the middle of our guidance range whilst also delivering on the construction of the required infrastructure to commence the transition to the paste-fill mining methods.”
Robinson said the construction of the dry stack tailings plant and landform had started, and would be a key focus for 2024.
“At Kounrad, I was delighted to officially open the solar power plant in November.
“It is anticipated that this facility will provide 16% to 18% of the site’s electrical needs on an annualised basis and reduce Kounrad’s scope one and two emissions by 10% versus 2020.
“We look forward to delivering another year of safe and reliable base metals production at our operations and looking for further opportunities to grow the business.
“We were delighted to have received confirmation in December that one of our new licence applications for our target generation exploration programme in Kazakhstan had been granted and we look forward to a full exploration season this year.”
Central Asia Metals said its annual results were scheduled to be released on 25 March, when its final dividend would also be announced.